“Tony freaking LaRussa.”
“That’s some sort of hoax, right?”
Slots and I took in the ocean breeze, as well as a few pops while contemplating what may become the craziest White Sox GM gaffe in their not-so-great history of managers. Of course, being as we were transplants living in San Francisco, we had the ability to look at it from a different perspective.
“Tony LaRussa is a drunk, a cheat, a putz and really an all-around jackass.”
Or maybe not. Slots took another drink, wiped the suds off his ‘stache with his lumberjack plaid shirt. He nodded to the bartender who poured him another shot of rye. Once the rotgut slipped past his uvula, he kept going.
“Seriously, how can anyone ponder re-hiring the jackass? Hs Jerry gone completely Trump and lost his marbles?”
“Has anyone seen Jerry?”
That’s Jerry Reinsdorf, managing partner of the White Sox for those uninitiated. Felt it necessary to clarify for you, the reader.
“What? Think he’s dead?”
“No, Slots. Just saying if you haven’t seen him maybe he’s incapacitated in one way or another.”
“Thinking about LaRussa, he’s got to be.”
The bar we frequented was dark, which was good. A lot of San Francisco was dark though. Things weren’t going great – unless you wanted to talk about disparity of income, then it was going fantastically well as if designed by a wannabe despot.
“Dark days my friend. Dark days.”
“If the Sox sign LaRussa, damn straight it will be.”
“Thinking in the big picture we got dark days Slots, like a lot of them coming up.”
An old man sat at the corner of the bar. He was well over six feet away which was good. The bar, in spite of its general appearance as a dive, conformed to societal rules. Hell even Slots wore a mask inside. More of a brandana, but still. He bought a Sox one that I know, but today was covering his big schnozz with the Giants, all black and orange.
I nodded toward him. “Giants.”
“Today my friend I went with the orange and black. Seems appropriate. Halloween’s coming up and I fear we are about to be tricked.”
“Maybe, maybe, so. But no – another cheating bastard – LaRussa.” Another slug dripped into the mask before Slots rambled. “He may have done well with the A’s? Sort of? But Jesus them guys were shooting up more than a carnie doing a 20 state tour.”
Wasn’t sure why a carnie would shoot up at all, but I got his point. He went on.
“And for what? Three trips to the World Series only to get one title?”
“Against the Giants.”
“And with a freakin’ earthquake as assistance.”
“The earthquake, Frank. I swear it shook the Giants…” I looked over with a smirk. “Don’t say it. It did. Affected if that makes you feel any better affected the Giants more than it did the A’s. They were shooting up. LaRussa’s a fucking cheat is all I’m saying.”
“And what of Jimmy Piersall? I’ll bet his opinion on it would be a gem.”
“Thinking you may have a difficult time getting it.”
“Don’t tell me.”
“Slots, he’s gone. Been for a while now.”
“How did I not know?”
“He’s not front page news in this city. It’s the way it is, you know?”
“Sometimes I miss Chicago.”
“There’s a lot to miss. Been 20 years.”
“Since Jimmy died?”
“No, man. Not sure exactly what year he died, just that he died.”
“Hey Buddy – what year did Jimmy Piersall die?”
Slots could call the bartender Buddy because that’s what he went by. Wasn’t convinced that was his real name, but this is California. Lot of people change their names when they become famous, or just for hiding.
“Who the hell is Jimmy Piersall?”
“Former ballplayer. Great guy. Straightforward. A bit nuts, but straightforward.”
“And how would I…?”
“You got one of them machines right there.”
“So do you, Slots. It’s in your hand. Internet’s right there on your damn phone.”
“I don’t know how to work it.”
Slots wasn’t being lazy, he seriously had no idea how to work his phone. He had a hard enough time texting. Someone told him to swipe across the keyboard to type, but his phone doesn’t do that. Sends a lot of texts that are just lines.
Buddy walked over, to say, “Lemme show you.”
“Nah. Just do me the damn favor, would ya? I’m dropping coin in here buying booze you know.”
“Okay fine. Hold on. How do you spell his name?”
“You don’t know how to spell Jimmy?”
“No, dipshit. His last name.”
“Do I look like someone who knows how to spell?”
This was going nowhere and would continue down the path to nothingville without a little help. “It’s P-I-E-R-S-A-L-L I think.”
“Thanks, Frank.” Buddy took a look at the old man at the corner. His head was down, but he was snoring. Buddy would on occasion lift up the man’s head to make sure he was still alive, but not today.
“Says he died in 2017.”
“Well damn. Maybe his ghost can go give LaRussa the asshole a little visit. Remember the story when LaRussa challenged Jimmy to a fight?”
Slots didn’t wait for my response, he just kept going. “Apparently Jimmy, he was the color guy for Harry Caray at the time. Damn he got off some zingers, one of them was aimed at LaRussa. The cocksucker took exception and challenged Jimmy to a fight.”
“I would not want to fight Jimmy.”
“No, he wasn’t very big but a scrapper for sure. Not the type of guy who’d give up easily.”
The old man in the corner raised his head and mumbled out ‘2017.’ Apparently he was listening just slow to process. Glad I wasn’t telling jokes. Hate to find out he laughed after I left.
“And how’d it go?”
“Guess LaRussa figured Jimmy wouldn’t give up so easily so LaRussa, the chickenshit, brought along another guy.”
“Tried to tag team Jimmy?”
“Well Jimmy wasn’t going to have none of that. He backed out. Wisely I think.”
I took a look around the bar. There wasn’t much. No one was around but us and the old man… and Buddy of course.
“You ready to go?”
“Dunno Slots. Out. Go out. See some sunshine. Take a walk or something. Go grab some Chinese. I dunno.”
Buddy came over like he had a sixth sense, and I guess as a bartender you kind of had to, even if the place was nearly empty. Slots struggled with his one arm to get his wallet and I let him for a few seconds before whipping out my debit card.
“Stop it, Slots. On me. So what’d we learn today?”
“We have to learn something?”
“Let me think on it Frank.”
Stools creaked on the dark wood floor, steps rose up to greet us and what little light there was on this foggy day waved to us as we got outside.
“How about this, Frank – Jerry’s losing it; Jimmy’s dead; and dark days are ahead, especially if the Sox hire LaRussa who’s still a piece of shit.”
As in cadence, we both took a right and headed down the street.
“Know who LaRussa works for right now, Frank? The Angels.”
“Yep. And how they doing? Got the best player in the MLB in Trout and can’t even get into the playoffs. He’s been there for a few years too. A consultant I think.”
“Which means stealing money handing out advice a chimp could.”
“He’s a chump alright. Chump handing out chimp advice for a team that goes nowhere. They’ve never even been in the playoffs with Trout. Shows what a damn genius LaLoser is. Thinks that’s what I’ll call him. LaLoser. Game’s passed him by, I tell ya.”
“Angels got Maddon now though.”
“Maddon’s no great shakes, but Maddon’s better without LaRussa. Hell wouldn’t surprise me if Maddon called Jerry and said, ‘Hey Jerry, how about your old pal Tony?’ Just to get him away from him, you know?”
“I could see that.”
“Bet he did. Maddon’s no dummy. Bet he hates LaRussa.”
“Not as much as you though Slots.”
“Goes without sayin’ Frank.”
Slots was not in the mood to go deeper into the conversation. He had the glow of a rustic gas lamp and could explode like one anytime. I wasn’t going to pull up any potential names, but I couldn’t help myself.
“I hope they hire Alomar Jr. Relatable.”
Slots looked at me as a puppy looks toward his owner for understanding, then shrugged. We took a walk toward the Wharf. Not on the Wharf, but toward it. We’re not tourists. As we did, San Francisco embraced us with its damp hug as it’s done on a near daily basis. Still, we’re Chicagoans.
“Go Sox, Frank.”
“Go Sox, Slots.”